Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy is facing a PPE shortage while working the front lines of COVID-19. Photo by Shaela Dansereau.

Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy is facing a PPE shortage while working the front lines of COVID-19. Photo by Shaela Dansereau.

Wetaskiwin Pharmacists are facing mask and glove shortages while working the front lines

Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy is quickly running out of necessary PPE with no restock in sight.

Across the province pharmacies have been battling front line issues of COVID-19, from lack of personal protective equipment to misinformed Albertans.

Pharmacies are considered an essential service and therefore are still open to their customers. However, with every person that comes in, the risk of community transmission to the pharmacy workers increases.

Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy is starting to feel the affects of working daily with the public through a pandemic. The process to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) has been a slow process.

“Our days are generally stressful dealing with medication shortages, issues accessing physicians who may be on isolation, obtaining prescription renewals for patients, and trying to solve a variety of other problems,” says owner and pharmacist Michelle Reid at Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy. “We are also now truly concerned about our health and wellbeing—yet we have no access to protective equipment.”

The staff is only able to wear the masks and gloves that were given to them by family members until shipments of PPE can come in. Unfortunately the three warehouses that Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy typically orders from are sold out of all PPE and cleaning supplies with estimated availability ranging anywhere from late April with some products stating they are expected in October.

Orders placed with independent supply companies also state delayed shipping.

“I would say we feel a bit helpless, and a bit anxious as we are concerned about ourselves, and about others,” Reid says about her staff at Family Pharmacy. “Our customers are also wanting to protect themselves and we can’t offer them any protection either. We find ourselves in a very frustrating situation.”

Despite PPE shortages, Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy has added more protective measures for the safety of their staff and customers.

“At Family Pharmacy we have installed plexiglass barriers, made lines on our floor to remind us to socially distance, thoroughly clean high-touch surfaces every hour and we are considering locking our doors to limit the amount of people in the Pharmacy,” says Reid. “Until we run out we will also be wearing masks. Hopefully these measures ensure our safety, so we can continue to provide essential frontline services.”

However protective measures and barriers don’t provide support for the strain that the pharmacy feels when it comes to new dispensing mandates and the spread of misinformation.

The Government has mandated that pharmacies across the country dispense for 30 days only instead of the usual three month fill. While it does make more work for Reid and her team in the long run, it is helping to extend current supplies.

“Our pharmacy is limited,” Reid says. Certain items are being shipped at very low volumes making the dispensing limits very important to ensure that all customers’ needs are met over this period. Reid elaborates, “for example, one inhaler is shipped to us per day, a maximum of three bottles of blood pressure pills per day, [and] two nitro sprays per day.”

In addition to this, the cut off times for next day ordering and the amount of times per week orders get shipped to us has also changed. The Family Pharmacy is now waiting for stock for three to seven days when is used to be one day.

When adapting to these new situations and regulations the lack of awareness from the public on proper PPE uses is also frustrating to the Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy team.

From ripped gloves, gloves on one hand only, and improperly worn masks, Reid notices a lot of PPE misuse. “We are seeing very little actual protection,” she says.

Another issue the pharmacy faces as a result of lack of public awareness is customers coming in wanting prescriptions for toted coronavirus ‘miracle drugs.’ Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw has made public announcements warning against using antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarial medications as an over-the-counter cure for COVID-19. As of this time there is no approved drug or vaccine to battle the virus.

“We’ve seen it and had some discussions with patients about it,” says Reid. “It’s a natural instinct for all of us to try to protect ourselves any way we can, especially in a situation like this. However, we want the right medication to be available at the right time to the right patients, so it’s important we practice appropriately.”

For right now the best thing that the community and Wetaskiwin Family Pharmacy customers can do to help during this pandemic is to stay home. Reid encourages customers to phone in with concerns or questions and to limit time spent in the pharmacy.

Reid says, “Any time you are out in public you are risking your health, your family’s health and those who are on the front line serving you. Stay informed and follow the direction of those making the decisions right now and do your best to be healthy and safe!”

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 36-year-old Eckville pedophile  was sentenced to 18 years in prison and given a 10-year-long-term supervision order for abusing nearly a dozen children over a decade.
Black Press file photo
Central Alberta pedophile sentenced to 18 years in prison and declared long-term offender

Eckville man abused nearly a dozen children as young as two over nearly a decade

Businesses are getting creative to keep cash flowing. (File photo)
Central Albertan lobbying government to help those affected by CERB repayments

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

The newly built Parkland Regional Library Services. (Photo Submitted)
Parkland Regional Library system moves into new offices in Lacombe

“Someone with a Parkland Library card can borrow from 350 libraries in Alberta,” Ron Sheppard

boating stock metro
New owners of public boat launch on Sylvan Lake plans opening for May 2021

The Launch at Sylvan Lake is located at 5220 Lakeshore Dr.

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Lacombe is looking at its options for reclaiming sewage lagoons that are no longer needed. Vesta Energy Ltd. has signed a deal to use three lagoons to store water for fracking.
Map from City of Lacombe
Energy company to use former Lacombe sewage lagoons to store water for fracking

Vesta Energy Ltd. will pay Lacombe more than $100,000 a year in 20-year deal

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Monday that11 more people had died from COVID-19, bringing the province’s death toll to 1,447. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Eleven more Albertans die from COVID-19

There were 739 people in hospital, 120 in ICU on Monday

Most Read